Why robotics for young children?

In 2015, Marina Bers, a Professor at Tufts University in Boston, published a whitepaper out the learning outcomes of an eight week robotics curriculum for kids aged between 4 and 8.  This curriculum was developed after some extensive research on robotics education for early childhood learning.

Robotics bring together atoms and bits – the physical world and computational world.

We are surrounded by technology in our everyday lives: Smart phones, smart faucets, automatic doors. microwave ovens, dish washers, laundry machines – the list is endless.  But in the early years, children learn very little about how these things work.

Research shows that young children can learn programming and engineering at a very young age. This is possible when children are given tools that are developmentally appropriate, that encourage open-ended play and that allow the integration of technical skills with expressive arts, math, literacy and cultural explorations.

Early Childhood Learning

Kids learn best by playing with physical objects, making things and testing things for themselves.  To learn programming and engineering, they need materials and “tools” designed in the spirit of traditional learning manipulative in early childhood learning (physical, as opposed to on-screen).

Children engaged in playful learning cultivate their curiosity for the technological world, explore problem solving and understand concepts such as sequencing, cause-and-effect, programming, sensors and motors.

Reimarc partners with Kinderlab Robotics

Reimarc is the brainchild of Heinrich Bierman (who put me onto the trail of this info) and they have quite a vision: to have all school education have its core basis deeply founded in the principle areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths which are key pillars for nation building.  See more on their website.

Kinderlab Robotics is a business that was started to enable Bers’s research at Tufts to be available to every young child.  Marina Bers and her friend, Mitch Rosenburg, joined forces when she became frustrated with the question “How can I get a robotic kit?” asked at all her conferences.  See more about Kinderlab on their website.

Reimarc partnered with Kinderlab Robotics because of the research Bers did in providing the key ingredients for robotics at a young age that enables growth in STEM.  Here are some photos of this being applied with Heinrich’s daughter playing with robotics.

early childhood learning in practice

Prof Marina Umaschi Bers

Bers is a professor at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development and the Computer Science Department at Tufts University.  She heads the interdisciplinary DevTech research group at Tufts.  Her research involves the design and study of innovative learning technologies to promote positive youth development.

The aim is to understand how technologies can positively impact children’s early development (STEAM Learning).  See more information on this on DevTech’s website.

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